Marine Le Pen, a far-right presidential candidate, sought to show her leadership skills on Wednesday, calling for a break from France’s recent diplomatic history to make France “still counts.”
A victory by Le Pen in France’s April 24 election run-off would send shockwaves through Europe and the Atlantic. It would also install a deep eurosceptic at the Elysee Palace, who has long expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Le Pen’s inept grasp of geopolitics has been criticized in the past. She once claimed that Russia hadn’t invaded Crimea in 2014. Le Pen hosted a news conference of 90 minutes to demonstrate that she has the power and stature to lead foreign policy.
She stated to French and international media that she was trying to clarify “misunderstandings” regarding her foreign policy.
She said that France is not a country of middle nations but a great power that matters. After a 30-minute monologue about France’s history, she then criticized the “chatty,” sketchy, and ill-informed diplomacy of President Emmanuel Macron (her opponent), she launched a 30-minute monologue.
She claimed she was misjudged in her earlier expressions of respect for Putin. She stated that she was only defending French interests in warm contacts with the Kremlin leader and calls for an alliance with Moscow.
Le Pen stated, “As soon the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is resolved and a peace treaty has been signed, I will be calling for the implementation a strategic rapprochement with Russia and NATO.”
She reiterated that if she is elected president, she will remove France from the U.S.-led NATO integrated command structure in order to restore French sovereignty in matters of international security.
A protester displayed a photo of Le Pen’s 2017 meeting in Russia with Putin. The image was cut out in the form of a heart and was briefly stopped by security before being taken out.
Le Pen also indicated that she desired more distance between Germany and Germany, a powerhouse of the European Union.
She supported Franco-German friendship, but warned that “strategic distinctions” could lead to a new way of dealing with Berlin.
She would end Franco-German military cooperation including future tank and warplane programs.
“I would continue…reconciliation without following the Macron-Merkel model of French blindness towards Berlin,” she said, referring to the former longtime German chancellor.
While she advocated for a looser European Union, she reiterated that France would remain in the bloc of 27 nations. Le Pen had previously dropped calls for the abandonment of the euro currency and the EU leaving, which cost her votes during past elections.
“Nobody opposes Europe. We want to reform Europe from the inside. She stated that the more we can free ourselves from Brussels’s straitjacket while still remaining in the EU the more we will be open to the wider world.”
She said that she believed this was what the English understood about Britain’s exit from the EU in 2020.
Her programme seeks to hollow out the EU. It would place her in a collision course on many points with the bloc’s partner countries, including plans for cutting French contributions to the EU budget. She also wants to re-establish French law as the supreme law.
Macron categorised Le Pen’s manifesto, which he said was full of lies and false promises that conceal a far-right agenda that would eventually lead to France’s exit from the EU.
“This sends chills down my spine. “It’s a mixture of themes from Trump rhetoric and Brexit rhetoric,” a European diplomat said to Reuters.
“A return to a reinterpreted history, with quotes and evidence from all sides to justify it and give it more reason. France could become irrelevant in Europe if her European program is implemented,” said the diplomat.